Gallery for Russian Arts and Design opens in Central London this June with See USSR, an exhibition of Russian propaganda from the 1920s and 1930s. These da zzling Intourist posters have never before been exhibited and include works held by the prestigious State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts , Moscow , Russia.
See USSR deals with the flipside of Russian propaganda, showing a very different side to the country than we have accepted. This is the Soviet Union at rest and at play: a country of leisure, comfort and luxury – the USSR through the looking glass.
These images contradict the picture normally conjured up by the Western mind, transforming the communist land into a tourist haven, and showcasing pre-war Soviet Union as an earthly paradise. Refuting the widespread belief that Stalin’s Soviet Union was a country almost completely closed to foreigners, See USSR examines the advertising Intourist, the organization responsible for foreign tourism in the USSR, created in 1930s.
Widening the propaganda poster’s usual remit, these dramatic images, many in the Art Deco style, were implemented not to educate the Bolshevik masses, but extended to foreigners in an attempt to draw in funds desperately needed for industrialisation. Demonstrating the cultural bureaucracy’s intent to restrict art to function as propaganda above all else, these compelling and beautiful graphic artworks take their place in the great legacy of Russia’s artistic history.
The title references a slogan from one of a range of Soviet Era posters, exhibited in London for the first time, toget her with maga zines, ephemera from the touris m initiati ve and textiles designed for the internal propaganda . See USSR is co-curated by Irina Nikiforova, The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts , Moscow , Russia.
See USSR exhibits a collection of eminent artists , including a number of wor ks by Nikolay Zhukov, Sergey Sakharov, and Maria Nesterova. Zhukov (1908–1973) is known for his wor k as a successful painter , portraitist and illustrator . He was widely regarded and his work hugely in demand by Party officials. He went on to illustrate the full edition of Lenin’s wor ks and was awarded two USSR State Prizes.
Complementing these unique, historical artworks, the gallery has also commissioned model-maker Henry Milner to reconstruct the eponymous See USSR poster, designed by Nikolay Zhukov in 1930.1 This lost artwork will be published by Curwen Press and be made available as a limited edition print by the gallery.
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